China’s thirst for Australian wine continues to grow at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world.
Industry group Wine Australia says China remains the top destination for Australian wine, with exports growing 44 per cent to $607 million in 2016/17.
That drove a 10 per cent rise in total Australian wine exports in the financial year to $2.3 billion, or 778 million litres.
The United States remains the second largest consumer of Australian wines, with exports there rising three per cent to $464 million.
Shiraz is Australia’s largest export, followed by cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
Wine Australia chief executive Andreas Clark said the wine culture in China is still evolving, and consumers are enjoying the discovery of wine.
“Australian wine is front and centre of that,” he said.
“We have 65 wine regions, we produce wine from a whole host of varieties and in different styles.
“So what we have really focused on in the last six or seven years is education, trying to help people understand what Australian wine is and where it comes from.”
Mr Clark said the initial interest in Australian wine among Chinese consumers was on luxury labels or for gift giving, but they are now moving towards everyday consumption of wine with a meal.
The free trade agreement signed by Australia and China in 2015 had also added to the growth of Australia’s wine exports to China.
“As well as the tariff cuts giving it additional impetus, there’s also a head turning effect with free trade agreements – it focuses commercial minds on a particular country,” Mr Clark said.
Australia now holds 24 per cent of the imported wine market in mainland China, compared to France’s 41 per cent.
But Australia’s market share is growing a lot faster than that of its competitors.
Mr Clark said Australia is trying to develop new markets in Asia, including Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The US market continues to grow, especially in the premium price categories, and among white wines such as chardonnay and pinot grigio.
However exports to the UK dropped seven per cent to $341 million, after the the value of the British pound fell in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Wine Australia also said exports of carbonated wines such as moscato more than doubled to $30 million, with the US accounting for 35 per cent of those exports, China 15 per cent and Japan 14 per cent.
AUSTRALIA’S TOP FIVE WINE EXPORT MARKETS:
* Mainland China, up 44pct in 2016/17 to $607m
* US, up 3pct to $464m
* UK, down 7pct to $341m
* Canada, down 5pct to $186m
* Hong Kong, down 8pct to $114m
(Source: Wine Australia)